No. 4 Florida, No. 22 Louisville in Sugar Bowl

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Louisville won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Louisville won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Louisville quarterback Will Stein (4) celebrates at the end of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Louisville won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Louisville quarterback Will Stein (4) celebrates at the end of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Louisville won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Now that Charlie Strong has his Louisville Cardinals in a BCS bowl, of course fate would have it that his team's opponent is Florida, a program with which he won a pair of national titles.

Sugar Bowl officials announced on Sunday night that this season's game will pit the Cardinals of the Big East against the Gators of the Southeastern Conference on Jan. 2.

"It's a program of excellence and I really enjoyed my time there," said Strong, who was the Gators' defensive coordinator from 2003-2009. "I watch that program every week.

"I'm just happy for this program to get to a BCS bowl game. I don't know if it really matters who we play," Strong added. "I'm just so happy for our players."

Despite finishing behind Georgia in the Southeastern Conference East Division, No. 4 Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC) got the Sugar Bowl bid because the winner of Saturday's SEC title game, Alabama, is headed to the BCS championship, while Georgia, which beat Florida and won the SEC East, was left with two losses after falling to the Crimson Tide and had a lower BCS ranking than the one-loss Gators.

While critics of the bowl system argued Georgia deserved a bowl on par with that of a Florida team they beat, Gators coach Will Muschamp hardly sounded sympathetic to that point of view.

"We started the season understanding the rules of engagement," he said. "These are the rules we started the year with and so be it."

Muschamp added that the Gators were "jacked-up" to be in the Sugar Bowl, despite the disappointment still felt from their lone loss to Georgia in their annual meeting in Jacksonville, a result which snuffed out their hopes of contenting for a BCS title.

"We had our opportunity in Jacksonville and didn't quite get it done to get into the national championship game, but we're going to play in the Sugar Bowl to represent our conference," Muschamp said. "We have great motivation for this game regardless of the circumstances."

No. 22 Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) finished in a tie for Big East championship but earned its invitation to a BCS bowl thanks to having the highest BCS ranking of any team in the league. The Cardinals opened the season 9-0 before falling to Syracuse and Connecticut, but then beat Rutgers to lock up their league's BCS bid.

This will be Florida's ninth appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The Gators have won three of their previous eight appearances, including a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 game. The Gators won a national title in the Sugar Bowl with a 52-20 victory over Florida State following the 1996 season.

Louisville will be playing in its first Sugar Bowl, making the Cardinals the fourth first-time participant in the game in the past six years.

Louisville and Florida have met twice before, with the Gators winning both in 1980 and 1992.

Florida won this year primarily with a rushing attack which averaged nearly 195 yards per game and was led by Mike Gillislee, and a highly rated defense that allowed only 12.9 points per game, the third-lowest average in the country.

Louisville rode a passing offense led by sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, which averaged nearly 296 yards per game. Bridgewater was beat up by the end of the season, but tough enough to play a crucial part-time role against Rutgers with a broken wrist and sore ankle. Strong now hopes that with a few weeks rest, Bridgewater will be in much better condition by the time his team lines up against the Gators.

"Our medical staff did an unbelievable job to get him ready for the Rutgers game, so now they have enough time," Strong said. "We've got to be smart on how we handle it."

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Comments » 19

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, they would have had a chance to be in it. But Bama probably would have prevailed over Florida as well.

greatdaysahead writes:

I don't see it happening, but goodness gracious I want Louisville to win. If we hire Strong then he goes and beats Florida, I don't think I could be any happier.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And had Tenn played the 4-3 they wouldn't be in the Sugar Bowl.

td writes:

Tennessee could do worse than a Charlie Strong Defense matched with a Jim Chaney Offensive.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

and if you weren't a tool you might be a nice guy

Prostar writes:

Muschump could have pulled a Saban and been more sympathetic about Georgia's plight. But no, very sarcastically "you know what the rules are". I think Georgia should have gotten the Sugar Bowl bid, after all they did beat Florida and played for the conference championship so they were clearly the number 2 team in the SEC.

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Go ahead and put Muschamp and Florida down for 12-1. Incredible season for Muschamp and an incredible turnaround. Florida ends the Bama dynasty next year.

CCLC writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Last time I checked turnovers were a big part of the game.... not an outlier. Wonder how many gamecocks are whining about all their turnovers against the ? Good luck against number 22 and co big east champs Louisville. Ought to be a real "close" and "exciting" game.

CCLC writes:

in response to Prostar:

Muschump could have pulled a Saban and been more sympathetic about Georgia's plight. But no, very sarcastically "you know what the rules are". I think Georgia should have gotten the Sugar Bowl bid, after all they did beat Florida and played for the conference championship so they were clearly the number 2 team in the SEC.

I guess RIcht will have to smack Muschump around a few more times before he gets it. Florida has a very limp wristed O. Imagine what they could have done with UT's O. Yikes!

rtrchatt writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Go ahead and put Muschamp and Florida down for 12-1. Incredible season for Muschamp and an incredible turnaround. Florida ends the Bama dynasty next year.

Hold on there Skippy, but we sure do know who ran little urbie out of the SEC..... Just flat scared of Nick and the red elephants.

Got 23 Fla guy? Whats your number, 8? Pretty strong.

Sir_Spanky writes:

If I was Charlie, I believe I'd stay at Louisville. What other excuse for a so-called BCS conference could you be in where you still get a Sugar Bowl bid after losing to Syracuse and Connecticut? What a total joke.

no1djkb#278630 writes:

in response to td:

Tennessee could do worse than a Charlie Strong Defense matched with a Jim Chaney Offensive.

I feel the same way. Would be nice if it could happen.

tnvol4ever writes:

Florida-34
Louisville-10

shipperman#280095 writes:

Some of you major Strong for TN coach fans can watch him get his arse kicked

huntined#565710 writes:

Wonder why they didn't just put FLA and GA in this game???

TXVol76 writes:

What a Waste............The Sugar Bowl deserves a better pairing!!!

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

OMG! What a joke. GA & FL would have made a much better game / rematch.

FL wins BIG: 52 - 17. Cards will score 17 only if Muskrat has a heart and plays his third string after the half.

GA will probably match up in the Capital one against Michigan or PSU. Don't know...Don't care.

VolinVirginia writes:

Amazing: Georgia wins the East, and gets relegated to the Capital One Bowl because they have a loss in the SEC Championship Game. Not saying that Florida doesn't deserve the trip to New Orleans, just saying that Georgia deserves it more.

I guess the Bulldogs would have been better off had they skipped the trip to Atlanta. Seems to me that this makes the case for a playoff, huh?

thevoice writes:

Post-season college football will always be screwed up until Rose Bowl lets go of tradition and Notre Dame joins a conference.

No. 4 vs No. 22? Really?

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